Can Trump pull off a win in November?

July in a presidential year is better late than never for a campaign reboot.  But a third-down audible is reportedly in the Trump campaign's playbook.  They're calling it: swap out moderate outreach, helmed by family capo Jared Kushner, and run with thunder-and-lighting populism.

Out goes exulting prison reform; in comes tenebrous talk of American carnage. 

One problem with calling it a comeback: finding the footing to rebound.  The Los Angeles Times reports that the Trump camp, having postponed its upcoming New Hampshire rally, is struggling to find an inflection point.  The July 3 address at the foot of Mt. Rushmore, with its tone of unapologetic American pride, laid out the dichotomy the president must emphasize to stay viable amid a pandemic-caused economic slump: that the Democrats despise America's civic foundation, while Republicans still find Uncle Sam a proud and admirable fellow.

The culture-war framing might not be enough of a wedge issue to capitalize on.  And Trump, forced to abandon boasts about the barrel-chested economy, may have put the pivot to patriotism off for too long.  In an interview with columnist Marc Thiessen, he decried the iconoclasm of young progressives tearing around cities, wrenching monuments off their plinths.  He then outlined his new re-election pitch: "Maybe I'm a voice in the wilderness but most people agree with me.  And many won't say it, and they might not even say it in a poll, but I think they'll say it in an election."

Will they, though?  Will the much-mythologized "silent majority" repudiate the youthful malcontents dispossessing their own country?

Count me as skeptical.  The shy Tory effect is real, and it likely nudged Trump over the finish line in 2016.  Enough housewives in Lancaster County, Pa. and Kenosha County, Wi. were willing to skirt propriety to vote for someone who hadn't spent thirty years in government.  The screw-you factor also shouldn't be discounted.  Some voters went with the outer-borough brandmaster just to stick it to the conceit-huffing self-identified superior class.

But the catharsis of choosing the unlikeliest president in American history has expired, the novelty expended within the first few months of 2017.  Spite is a powerful electoral force.  But it's not clear that spiting the youthful critical-theory enthusiasts with a Trump vote will actually deter them.  It didn't before.  Leftists are more zealous, and more influential, than ever. 

Progressive woke narration has infiltrated every major American institution.  Corporate chains from Burger King to PetSmart unthinkingly mouth Black Lives Matter slogans.  Social media channels promote anti-white graphics.  Newspapers tilt reporting to be openly hostile to conservatives.  Talk of binning "The Star-Spangled Banner" is spotlighted.  A passel of writers and thinkers signed on to an open letter denouncing the thought-limiting illiberalism of the left, only to have the tract ridiculed as reactionary, with some signees bullied into retracting their names..

The Facebook and Twitter feeds of countless Millennials are filled with the same reductionist precept: America is an irredeemable nation unworthy of fidelity.  And Trump and his followers are a churlish band of racists. 

Will casting a Republican ballot in the fall change this mindset in the slightest?  Will it stop your Bernie-loving nephew from calling George Washington a white supremacist at Thanksgiving?  If Trump squeaks his way into a second term, will it dial back the red-hot tempers of the left?  Or will four more years make the current unrest seem quiescent in comparison?

There is a danger of fatalism gripping the president's steadfast base, and Republicans more generally.  The only message the loyal Trump voter has heard for three years running is that his choice was illegitimate.  Trump was never allowed to be president.  His re-election should not be allowed.  On the off chance of a repeat performance, the second term will be just as hamstrung as the first, with ceaseless congressional sniping and lawsuit-driven inquiries from an unscrupulous press. 

That kind of guaranteed acrimony makes a Trump re-elect less a cure for our fraying bonds than a sepsis reaction, exciting the pestilential forces corrupting the republic from within.

The left's propensity for poor-sportish dudgeon doesn't make Biden a shoo-in, however.  A new Monmouth poll revealed that 57% of Pennsylvania voters believe that a muted contingent of "secret" Trump-supporters will return their candidate to the White House.  Unstinting cultural aggression can easily turn despair into intolerable abjection.  Even the worm eventually turns. 

Where the right could lose enthusiasm over being unable to alter their country's course, the left risks overshooting its ambition.  Attacking America's core, its fundamental ousia, can cause something greater, more precious, to snap.  The nothing-left-to-lose reaction won't be pretty.  Convincing progressives of their errors will be secondary to lashing out for the hell of it.  It may even end up handing Trump the reins back.

Image: Fox News via YouTube.

July in a presidential year is better late than never for a campaign reboot.  But a third-down audible is reportedly in the Trump campaign's playbook.  They're calling it: swap out moderate outreach, helmed by family capo Jared Kushner, and run with thunder-and-lighting populism.

Out goes exulting prison reform; in comes tenebrous talk of American carnage. 

One problem with calling it a comeback: finding the footing to rebound.  The Los Angeles Times reports that the Trump camp, having postponed its upcoming New Hampshire rally, is struggling to find an inflection point.  The July 3 address at the foot of Mt. Rushmore, with its tone of unapologetic American pride, laid out the dichotomy the president must emphasize to stay viable amid a pandemic-caused economic slump: that the Democrats despise America's civic foundation, while Republicans still find Uncle Sam a proud and admirable fellow.

The culture-war framing might not be enough of a wedge issue to capitalize on.  And Trump, forced to abandon boasts about the barrel-chested economy, may have put the pivot to patriotism off for too long.  In an interview with columnist Marc Thiessen, he decried the iconoclasm of young progressives tearing around cities, wrenching monuments off their plinths.  He then outlined his new re-election pitch: "Maybe I'm a voice in the wilderness but most people agree with me.  And many won't say it, and they might not even say it in a poll, but I think they'll say it in an election."

Will they, though?  Will the much-mythologized "silent majority" repudiate the youthful malcontents dispossessing their own country?

Count me as skeptical.  The shy Tory effect is real, and it likely nudged Trump over the finish line in 2016.  Enough housewives in Lancaster County, Pa. and Kenosha County, Wi. were willing to skirt propriety to vote for someone who hadn't spent thirty years in government.  The screw-you factor also shouldn't be discounted.  Some voters went with the outer-borough brandmaster just to stick it to the conceit-huffing self-identified superior class.

But the catharsis of choosing the unlikeliest president in American history has expired, the novelty expended within the first few months of 2017.  Spite is a powerful electoral force.  But it's not clear that spiting the youthful critical-theory enthusiasts with a Trump vote will actually deter them.  It didn't before.  Leftists are more zealous, and more influential, than ever. 

Progressive woke narration has infiltrated every major American institution.  Corporate chains from Burger King to PetSmart unthinkingly mouth Black Lives Matter slogans.  Social media channels promote anti-white graphics.  Newspapers tilt reporting to be openly hostile to conservatives.  Talk of binning "The Star-Spangled Banner" is spotlighted.  A passel of writers and thinkers signed on to an open letter denouncing the thought-limiting illiberalism of the left, only to have the tract ridiculed as reactionary, with some signees bullied into retracting their names..

The Facebook and Twitter feeds of countless Millennials are filled with the same reductionist precept: America is an irredeemable nation unworthy of fidelity.  And Trump and his followers are a churlish band of racists. 

Will casting a Republican ballot in the fall change this mindset in the slightest?  Will it stop your Bernie-loving nephew from calling George Washington a white supremacist at Thanksgiving?  If Trump squeaks his way into a second term, will it dial back the red-hot tempers of the left?  Or will four more years make the current unrest seem quiescent in comparison?

There is a danger of fatalism gripping the president's steadfast base, and Republicans more generally.  The only message the loyal Trump voter has heard for three years running is that his choice was illegitimate.  Trump was never allowed to be president.  His re-election should not be allowed.  On the off chance of a repeat performance, the second term will be just as hamstrung as the first, with ceaseless congressional sniping and lawsuit-driven inquiries from an unscrupulous press. 

That kind of guaranteed acrimony makes a Trump re-elect less a cure for our fraying bonds than a sepsis reaction, exciting the pestilential forces corrupting the republic from within.

The left's propensity for poor-sportish dudgeon doesn't make Biden a shoo-in, however.  A new Monmouth poll revealed that 57% of Pennsylvania voters believe that a muted contingent of "secret" Trump-supporters will return their candidate to the White House.  Unstinting cultural aggression can easily turn despair into intolerable abjection.  Even the worm eventually turns. 

Where the right could lose enthusiasm over being unable to alter their country's course, the left risks overshooting its ambition.  Attacking America's core, its fundamental ousia, can cause something greater, more precious, to snap.  The nothing-left-to-lose reaction won't be pretty.  Convincing progressives of their errors will be secondary to lashing out for the hell of it.  It may even end up handing Trump the reins back.

Image: Fox News via YouTube.